A Holiday Pit Stop: The Badlands

Grant and I had a lovely holiday trip but it’s nice to be back in a regular routine again (though I wouldn’t have minded a few more weeks with family). One of my favorite parts about our trip was actually on the way to Iowa. We took a spontaneous pit stop in South Dakota’s Badlands, about five hours from home, and were thrilled to be in the presence of the type of beauty that belongs in a magazine.

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The Badlands are a hidden jewel. Until you drive right into them, it’s impossible to see how truly magnificent they are. From the road they appear to merely be a mass of jagged rocks coming up from the earth. In the midst of them, though, is an expanse of spongy, seemingly painted statues jutting into an empty landscape for miles and miles and miles. It’s incredible how far you can see.

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We took the Badlands scenic route, which is a loop right off Highway 90. It took us about an hour out of our way, but it was well worth it. The land is home to hundreds of prairie dog colonies. They were unfazed by me as I stuck half my body out of the window to get a good picture of their curious faces. We also spotted a precious snow bunny. ❤

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The most special sight we came across, however, was a heard of rare Bighorn sheep, just off the road. There were probably 20 of them, munching on grass and completely comfortable with the people a few feet away snapping pictures of them. Grant and I got out of the car and made our way up the hill, breathless with the incredulity of seeing such magnificent creatures so close. This sort of thing truly happens only once in a lifetime.

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When I visit places like the Badlands I am always reminded of how small I am in this intricately created world. A single rock can tower hundreds of feet above me, could crush me in an instant if it fell, and yet I feel no danger because our world is not random and rocks do not fall for no reason. As an artist, I can really appreciate God’s handiwork in the colored striations on the cliffs, in the massive rocks jutting out in an awe-inspiring pattern, in the gentle and beautiful beasts of nature. In those quiet moments looking over the mountains I wonder how anyone could deny that we live in a world of intense purpose, created by the most inspired Artist of all.

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